NPR Music

Hannah Lew is already a familiar name on the indie-pop scene: The San Francisco native used to play bass in the great-but-dormant Grass Widow.

The story of music in 2015 goes like this: There are endless ways to listen to endless songs. Looking for something new? There's an algorithm for that. Prefer a human touch? Podcasts, blogs, Beats 1 (maybe!), good old terrestrial radio — take your pick. Honestly, we use all these and more. Many of these songs came to us via Soundcloud or YouTube, Spotify or iTunes. Many others showed up in our inboxes and demanded attention. Some of them we'd been waiting for for years. Some were complete surprises.

Ronnie Gilbert, the female voice in the influential 1950s folk quartet the Weavers, which also included Pete Seeger, Lee Hays and Fred Hellerman, has died at age 88.

Gilbert died of natural causes on Saturday, at a retirement home in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Mill Valley, her longtime partner Donna Korones was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.

Martin Sexton says that when he sat down to produce his latest album, Mixtape Of The Open Road, he'd originally set out to record around a theme, like a "Nashville, 1972 album or a bluegrass record or a Zeppelin-esque rockin' CD." But the songs that were coming out had a different plan — each had its own distinct feel. So, as Sexton says, he just "stepped on the gas and headed in that direction of making a mixtape ...

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Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LULLABY FOR THE LONELY PEOPLE")

JIHAE: (Singing) I don't want and I don't need other people's measures to rise.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The singer-songwriter Jihae moved around a lot growing up as the daughter of a diplomat.

Kate Tempest is a woman of words. The English rapper, poet, playwright and novelist keeps language — and the stories that language brings to life — at the core of everything she does. Her subjects are everyday people: their hardships and failures, their loves and losses.

Antonio Sanchez is one of the most accomplished and in-demand drummers around, and right now he's experiencing a breakthrough. Jazz heads have known him for years, but he reached a much wider audience last year with his score for the film Birdman.

"The monastic life is very plain and ordinary," says Father Cassian Folsom, the founder and prior of the Monks of Norcia, ensconced in the St. Benedict Monastery in central Italy. "You get up, and you pray, and you do your work and go to bed and then the next day you do the same thing."

A large portion of the monks' daily routine is singing. "We chant the Divine Office and the Mass every day," Folsom tells NPR's Scott Simon. "And if you put all of those moments together it takes about five hours a day. Three hundred sixty-five days a year."

Leonard Bernstein often said: "Every author spends his entire life writing the same book." The same could apply to composers.

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